Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
The US on Wednesday condemned the government's decision to expand
settlement construction, saying that it undermines peace efforts.
The statement came following the government's announcement that 551 new housing units would be built in the West Bank.
Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank undermines peace efforts
and contradicts Israeli commitments and obligations including the 2003
Roadmap," a State Department spokesman said on Wednesday evening.
US position on Israeli settlements is clear," he said. "We do not
accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. We also
oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts."
Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias announced Wednesday
evening that the new housing units would comprise 117 units in Ariel,
92 in Ma'aleh Adumim, 114 in Adam, 114 in Efrat and 84 in Kiryat Arba.
They will be built in addition to the three hundred
that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has already promised to build in
Beit El following the evacuation of the apartment buildings
in the West
Bank outpost Ulpana.
This decision was reached in a conversation Wednesday between Netanyahu and Atias.
the supply of land helps young couples, and construction in the West
Bank strengthens the settlements. Although 30 apartments will be
evacuated, 850 will be built instead. Under the circumstances, this is
the appropriate solution," said Atias.
Earlier Wednesday, in a televised statement
Netanyahu said that the government is in the midst of a very complex
environment, and is upholding democracy and strengthening the overall
settlement enterprise in its decision over the Ulpana outpost.
A bill to legalize the West Bank outpost was defeated by a vote of 69-22 on Wednesday.
Netanyahu said that the government had acted with responsibility and discretion, and thanked his coalitions partners.
expressed sympathy for the pain of the families living in the Ulpana
outpost who are due to be evacuated. However, he said, "you have to
understand, we are working in a very complex reality; internally,
internationally and in terms of the law."
He emphasized that his
government would continue to strengthen the settlements, at the same
time as strengthening democracy in Israel.